Article by KevW
Released earlier this year in his native U.S., 'Highspeeds', the debut album from Elliot Moss, hits the UK this weekend, and even if you've heard certain songs already, they probably won't give you much of an idea about the rest of the tracks the New Yorker has composed. The way this record flits between styles without sounding forced or ham-fisted in any way is quite something. Take first single 'Slip'. This has a modern soul feeling which is mixed with skeletal electronic beats and a mid-tempo pace that allows his impressive voice plenty of space. 'Slip' is slick, it's alt-pop that doesn't want to be too pop, even bringing in jazzy horns to enhance the multi-layered soundscape he sings to.
Contrast that to the pretty, bare and acoustic 'Even Great Things' which, despite being the slowest, sparsest and most tender song here, still feels like a centrepiece. This is a sad, almost lullaby-like number that begins with just voice and guitar, only adding a little more instrumentation towards the end as Moss croons "it's always hard to say goodbye, but even great things die sometimes". He knows how to pack in emotion without bringing an orchestra in for extra augmentation; none is needed. The often stark changes on the album are then highlighted, as that quiet and downbeat tune is followed by the jittery, electronic, experimental pop of 'I Can't Swim' which is almost danceable as well as having an indie/rock crossover thanks to some gritty guitar lurking in the background.
Changes like this are evident right from the start, as the title-track also takes an acoustic approach and flirts with dreampop and orchestral sounds thanks to its subtle arrangements, emotion-filled vocals and multitude of musical textures. This is almost a modern update of 'He's Simple, He's Dumb, 'He's The Pilot' by Grandaddy. 'Highspeeds' is all about experimenting with sound. 'The Big Bad Wolf' is that trip-hoppy dance track at times, but at other times it takes from latter-day Radiohead's glitches. 'Into The Icebox [Binaural]' isn't perhaps the hypnotic, binaural-beat based soundscape you're imagining, in fact it uses distant musichall-style piano and eerie samples. We even come close to dub on 'Plastic II', but with a very graceful sweep. 'Highspeeds' is an album that throws up a surprise around every corner but still works as a solid body of work, and this is exemplified by closer 'Best Light' where everything seems to come together and loose ends are tied up. You can't deny that Elliot Moss is a man with a sackful of ideas, and, thankfully, he's not afraid to use them.
Elliot Moss' website
Stream the album in full
Buy the album
Catch him live:
29 Sept: London, The Lexington, [PIAS] Nites
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